Meandering thoughts on summer


Summer is here.  I don’t care what the calendar says.  Yeah, I know that summer is not officially upon us until June 21, but I say it’s summer when temperatures hit 90 degrees.  And another thing – I must respectfully disagree with the lyrics by Martha and the Vandellas in their 1964 hit song that “summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets.”  Are you kiddin’ me?  Dancing in the streets when it’s 95 degrees with oppressive humidity down here in south Louisiana?


I realize that the metaphorical reference in the song “Dancing in the Street” means that summer is a time to have fun, enjoy yourself with family and friends, and generally just enjoy life.  We all have our preferences for relaxing and unwinding during the summer months.  Outdoor activities generally mean watching the weather forecast and planning when to be outside, with consideration given to dodging the raindrops.


So summer means just goofing off with whatever recreational activities we enjoy. One of my hobbies is antique cars.  I have a “collection” of two antique automobiles. One car is a1960 Ford Falcon, which is a hardtop, meaning it has a permanently affixed roof.  My other antique is a 1958 Ford Thunderbird convertible.  The Thunderbird has been in various stages of restoration for three years now.  When the total restoration is complete, sometime later this summer, I certainly will lower the top and cruise the back roads.  Riding in a convertible in city traffic during peak summer months is rather like dancing on Johnston Street when the combination of heat and humidity, the asphalt, and automobile exhaust produce a temperature of 125 degrees!


Summer also brings high school and college graduations – the close of one chapter in peoples’ lives, and the beginning of another chapter. Yes, I know most graduations are in May, but I still consider those events to be summertime activities.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are summertime celebrations of the people to whom we owe tremendous love and gratitude.  Summer also brings a spate of patriotic observances.


Memorial Day is just a couple of weeks from now.  The “holiday” is said to be the unofficial start of summer.  I say summer is well underway by Memorial Day, and it is much more than a holiday.  Sure, enjoy the day off and plan an outdoor cookout with your favorite patio foods like burgers and hot dogs, and invite family and friends over.  Also on Memorial Day, make doubly-sure to reflect on the many American soldiers who have given their lives to ensure that our great country remains free.  With all that is wrong with our country here in 2018, it is still the freest country, with the most opportunities for all, in the history of the world.


So break out your American flags and mount them proudly at your home and business.  Memorial Day is followed just two-plus weeks later by Flag Day on June 14.  Flags should definitely be displayed for Flag Day.  In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a day to commemorate the U.S. flag.  In 1949, the U.S. Congress voted to designate Flag Day as a permanent holiday on June 14. Just over two weeks after Flag Day, it is Independence Day.  The irony of Independence Day is that our country was not free from the over-reaching rule of England on July 4; our founding fathers had simply “declared” our independence on July 4.  The Revolutionary War saw many Americans lose their lives so that the USA could begin the experiment of “Liberty and Justice for All.”

Enjoy your summer.  Go fishing, go swimming, have your cookouts, or whatever it is you do to enjoy and celebrate life.  And be sure to listen to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” as often as possible.  If you plan to dance in the street, be sure to bring an overabundance of water.  Later this summer, if you see me in my red Thunderbird convertible with the top down, rest assured that I too will have a big bottle of water.  I might be sweating a little bit, but I certainly will be enjoying life, and I will not be dancing in the street.

-Mark Pope